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More than 3 million people facing acute food insecurity as Burkina Faso grapples with COVID-19 and conflict

25.08.2020 14:10 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) Urgent and sustained action is needed to address worsening food and nutrition insecurity in Burkina Faso, say the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), citing alarming new data. Some 3.3 million people are estimated to be facing acute food insecurity during the current lean season, that period which precedes the harvest in September.

The latest analysis by the Cadre Harmonisé indicates an increase in acute food insecurity of more than 50 percent since the situation in Burkina Faso was last assessed in March. Experts say the crisis has been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 on people’s ability to earn money to cover their daily needs in a country already reeling from conflict and climate change.

Two provinces in the Sahel region — Oudalan and Soum — have been driven into the Emergency phase of food insecurity, as defined by the Cadre Harmonisé. Some 3 percent of people in these northern areas are said to be experiencing catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity and facing extreme food consumption gaps, also resulting in alarming levels of acute malnutrition. Many of those worst affected have been displaced from their homes by fighting in the region.

«We’re seeing an alarming deterioration in food security across the worst-hit parts of the country,» said David Bulman, WFP Country Director and Representative in Burkina Faso. «We need to take immediate action to reverse this trend in the two provinces. It would be nothing short of a disaster were a whole generation to be crushed by conflict, displacement and hunger.»

«The COVID-19 pandemic is further exacerbating a crisis that was already deteriorating at a worrying pace, pushing more and more people into severe food crisis and acute food insecurity,» said Dauda Sau, FAO Representative in Burkina Faso. «We can reverse this trend if we act now by supporting the Government to protect livelihoods, rapidly increase local food production and availability, and support rural populations to access food.»

Many of those most at risk are subsistence farmers and livestock herders. While urgent humanitarian life-and livelihood-saving assistance is needed to address immediate needs, so too is longer-term investment in rural livelihoods and social services which, say experts, can help reinforce social cohesion and contribute to peace.

FAO and WFP have been responding to the crisis in Burkina Faso by providing food assistance coupled with livelihood protection and support for displaced people and the host communities that receive them.

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